Exhaustion-related changes in cardiovascular and cortisol reactivity to acute psychosocial stress
We investigated the effects of vital exhaustion (VE) on cardiac autonomic functions in relation to working conditions such as overtime and frequent business trips, and to lifestyles such as smoking on 52 healthy middle-aged male workers. VE was evaluated by an abbreviated Maastricht Vital Exhaustion Questionnaire. Cardiac autonomic function at supine rest was assessed by spectral analysis of heart rate variability in an annual health checkup. The mean amplitude of the high frequency (HF: 0.15-0.4 Hz) component was lower in the high-VE group, whereas no significant difference in the ratio of the low frequency (LF: 0.04-0.15 Hz) component power to HF power (the LF/HF ratio) was observed among VE groups. There were significant interactive effects of VE and smoking on HF amplitude, and of VE and frequent business trips on the LF/HF ratio. VE symptoms were related to the suppression of the cardiac para-sympathetic nervous function at rest in middle-aged male workers, but not to the alteration in sympathovagal balance. Smoking and overwork such as frequent business trips may amplify the autonomic dysfunction in relation to VE among workers with a pronounced feeling of VE.